Humor in Huckleberry Finn

I do not wish any reward but to know I have done the right thing.

The story arouses humor in different means such as lies, deceptions, machinations of plot, prevarications of Huck and Tom, and through the superstitious beliefs of the primitive character, Jim. The novel is a masterpiece of fun, farce and satire.

All right, then, I'll go to Hell.

Huck Finn

The reason Twain’s humor is so powerful and meaningful is because he uses it in a way that is timeless. Humor is usually lost when analyzed, but this is not the case for Twain’s writing, as his humor is abiding and genuine.

Humor Used to Show Hypocrisy

Twain uses humor to spotlight religious hypocrisy. Miss Watson, who teaches Finn, takes it upon herself to instruct Huck in religious matters and on how one should act if they hope to reach heaven. This is ironic, as she owns slaves. The owning of slaves is condemned in her BIble, but she has them anyway.

An example of the Widow acting humorously two-faced is when she forbids Huck from smoking in Chapter 1. Huck had asked her if he could smoke and she "said it was a mean practice and wasn't clean." But Huck justified the Widow herself smoking. "And she took snuff too; of course that was all right, because she done it herself."

Sarcastic Humor Used to Make a Point

The scene where Huck's "Aunt Sally," Mrs. Phelps, mistakes Huck for her relative Tom Sawyer. Huck tells her a story about a steamboat accident and says the explosion was so dangerous a black man died. Mrs. Phelp's responded with "lucky, that no one got hurt." It was a racist comment. This is an example of an understatement.

Comedic Humor

In Chapter 33 when Tom, pretending to be somebody else, kisses his Aunt Sally. She is so surprised at his action she starts to yell at him. Tom then proceeds to make up a story saying the locals told him to do it. He tries to close the argument saying, "N'm, I'm honest about it; I won't ever do it again. Until you ask me," which sets off a new argument. Twain keeps the reader's attention with this type of humorous dialogue.

The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it; but the teller of the comic story tells you beforehand that it is one of the funniest things he has ever heard, then tells it with eager delight, and is the first person to laugh when he gets through.


Satire is the type of humor evident in the novel. Religion is the most common example of Twain’s satire, which he communicates through the character Huck Finn. Throughout the novel Twain satirizes prayer through Huck. In Chapter One, the Widow Douglas attempted to convey the importance of religion to Huck. She took out her bible and read stories of Moses to Huck. Huck was intrigued by the story of Moses and broke into a deep sweat as he waited to find out more about the biblical figure.

However, once Huck learns that Moses is dead, he immediately loses interest in the stories. This example demonstrates Twain’s opposition to the blind faith found in church teachings

Humor on Religion

Life is so miserable in the Widow Douglas's home that Huck wishes he were in hell

Since the Widow is planning to go to Heaven, Huck decides he will avoid meeting her there; he will happily join his pal,\u00a0Tom Sawyer, in the bad place

Huck says, “Then Miss Watson she took me in the closet and prayed, but nothing come of it. She told me to pray every day, and whatever I asked for I would get it.” (Twain 10) Twain uses this to mock Christian beliefs. After praying and getting nothing out of it, Huck seems to conclude that there is no point in praying to God if nothing is gained from it.


Parodies are most obvious in the exploits of the character Tom Sawyer. When Tom Sawyer’s gang of robbers was created Tom describes where he was able to think of such a “beautiful” oath. The book states, “Everybody said it was a real beautiful oath, and asked Tom if he got it out of his own head. He said some of it, but the rest was out of pirate books and robber books, and every gang that was high toned had it” (Twain 10). This is an example of parody because Tom Sawyer bases his life and actions on adventure novels and in this case created an oath out of them.


Specifically through caricature.

Pap’s character generates an excellent example of burlesque through caricature. Huck describes his father as one would visualize him. From the description provided to the readers, Pap Finn is seen as an older man, very unkempt, pale as a ghost, and very hairy with a frightening appearance.


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This type of humor is evident when Huck is kidnapped by his father in Chapter Six. Pap keeps Huck locked in their cabin, never letting Huck go anywhere unless Pap accompanies him. Pap hid the key under his pillow so that Huck would not escape. In a later scene, Pap chases Huck around the house with a gun. Although in modern society these scenes would be considered dark and dangerous, in Twain’s day it was thought to be a farce due to Pap’s physical use of humor.

A story cannot be considered humorous unless its humor is spontaneous, natural and not affected, and unless it is told seriously by the author. A humorous story, according to him, ends with a twist that creates irony in the narrative. An irony that is unexpected by the casual reader of Twain.




"Humor and Wit in Huckleberry Finn Essay." Example - Over 100,000 essays, term papers and book reports!. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Dec. 2010. < /viewpaper/14451.html>.

  • "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Literary Analysis." N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2010. < engleza _huckleberry_ finn_ literary.html>.

  • Twain, Mark, and Thomas Cooley. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: an authoritative text, contexts and sources, criticism. 3rd ed. New York: Norton, 1999. Print.

  • Slavery, exposing the hypocrisy of, and demonstrates how racism distorts. "SparkNotes: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Themes,

  • StudyMoose.

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